It was an interesting game -- for the first 3/4 of the contest, Rutgers players knocked down every open shot they took and even some well-defended ones. GW mostly held their own, hitting rebuttals and getting steals, but there was rarely a sizable lead. The referees were pretty abysmal too, calling and not calling some strange stuff, including not calling intentional on an extremely hard foul while Joe McDonald was going up for a layup. He was on the ground for a while and had to helped to the bench and didn't come back. At one point both head coaches were furious at the ref for the same play too -- something I've never seen, and which is not a good sign.
But I have to say, even from a narrow win, I really like this team. You never know who's going to step up, and they respond to challenges. Five GW players scored in double figures, and while there were a fair amount of terrible defensive plays, namely leaving shooters wide open and allowing way too many unabated drives to the basket, the good guys held firm and were clutch when it was needed. GW's free throw shooting steadily improved during the game too, from very bad to solid towards the end, putting the game out of reach.
So, how about the game? Clutch was the key word here, when GW was teetering, somebody would answer -- be it Zeek Armwood, who had 20 points and 9 boards, or Kevin Larsen, who was huge in the second half, or Nemanja Mikic, who was visibly feeling it, pumping his fist after knocking down three threes in a row, playing hard on defense and drawing some big fouls. He was 4/7 from three with 14 points total, and folks on Twitter were talking about his resurgence. Joe McDonald only had 6 points but dished 9 assists and pulled down 9 rebounds, often due to great positioning -- really impressive from a point guard. Kethan Savage and Maurice Creek were also both huge, both scoring 18. The good guys, as usual, also had great ball control with only 11 turnovers and 20 assists and played with a lot of hustle, causing jump balls and the like.
As for the bad parts, some of it wasn't really GW's fault -- it's hard to complain when Rutgers is hitting shots from the Capitol dome, well behind the arc. That said, the Colonials didn't always rotate quick enough and left guys open -- I bet Coach Lonergan is going to ream them out for that. The Scarlet Knights shot 13/27 from three and over 50% from the floor -- not good numbers for the defense, but just shows that this team won't give up in the face of adversity.
I also hope that Joe McDonald is ok, and Patricio Garino sat out the game in street clothes. Not sure if he reinjured his hand from before or what. Stay tuned.
On the lighter side, there was a lot of silliness during the breaks. In the Tonic tater tot toss, or whatever it's called, we all witnessed one of the most impressive tater tot throwing-into-mouthing that has probably ever happened -- one team, who threw high arcs, made about 7 in a row to dominate. Then in the end zone seats, a student ripped his t-shirt in half, Hulk Hogan style, and a girl in the upper end zone won the dance contest -- the first time I didn't do the Sprinkler in forever. Coincidence? Not sure. Plus the Smith Center had a free Keurig coffee giveaway and a drawing to win 30 (!) coffee makers, and they also now sell Sour Patch Kids. I also ran into Mike Hall and chatted briefly, and later on Twitter he guaranteed a win over Maryland at Sunday's BB&T (tickets are still available!) and had some nice things to say about the program lately. Solid all around.
So, it was a good, gritty win. I'm excited to see the team against Maryland on Sunday. If the guys can cut back on the defensive lapses, this will be a dangerous team.
(Special thanks to @davidkanevsky for letting me use his iPad thing to tweet the game too)